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Sites sometimes use a bar in order to invite readers to subscribe to their mailing list.

In my experience, the majority of sites that do this choose a non-sticky top bar (header). However, it seems to me, intuitively, that this isn't a good choice, because readers are only exposed to it in the beginning, before they start engaging with the content.

This would obviously vary for different websites, but assuming that we're talking about regular blogs, I was wondering if:

  1. There is generally a difference in performance between a top bar and a bottom bar (in terms of conversion rates). I'm interested both in data and in general best-practice guidelines.

  2. There is a difference between the two in terms of when you should or should not use a sticky bar (i.e. it's okay to do this with a top bar, but not a bottom bar).

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I am not sure how many sites with Subscription invite requests you have visited before posting this question but I feel like you need to visit some more.

I was a little thrown by your question and the observation so I visited the top article-based sites to see whether that was the case but found it otherwise. All of them had the Subscribe option at the end of the article which goes in line with the point you made about engaging the user.

Coming to your questions:

  1. Top and bottom bars have very different purposes. Top bar is used for navigation and hence is sometimes sticky to keep the usability high. Bottom bar on the other hand is usually the footer in websites which has navigation too but here it's about listing out everything that the site has to offer including legal terms, external links and references. In mobile apps, the use of top and bottom bar is decided by many different factors which I won't be mentioning here as it is off-topic.
  2. When to use sticky bars? The top bar gets usually gets a nod when there's plenty of scrolling involved in the website (infinite scrolling, long articles, listing out comments) because it makes navigation less of a hassle. Bottom bar should not be kept sticky as it is distracting. Also, nowadays, disclaimers like change in T&C, Privacy Policy, Cookie policy, etc. are put in sticky closable bottom bars to draw attention of the user. That makes sticking something else to the bottom way more difficult. Also, floating buttons have found their way in, thus removing bottom stickies in most cases.

Hope this helps

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A famous quote comes to mind - "One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions".

This absolutely 100% something you can and should TEST yourself.

Even if you find some detailed study showing some slightly better conversion rates for one location over another, this wouldn't guarantee that that was the right place for your site and your visitors.

As A/B (or A/B/n) testing goes this is relatively simple. You have a non-complex UI element, and an obvious goal to track.

Use something like Google Analytics 'Optimize' features to show three versions of your most trafficked relevant page - bar on top, bar on bottom, bar both on top and bottom - to your users and let the results tell you which is the best location.

https://www.google.com/analytics/optimize/features/

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